While you were watching football and keeping an eye on the PGA Tour leaderboard as Marc Leishman romped to the BMW Championship win, you may have missed an extremely curious occurrence.
The short story is Sergio Garcia made an improbable par save at the par-5 18th hole at Conway Farms to slide into the top 30 and the FedEx Cup points standings and earn a spot in the Tour Championship.
The long story is long…like 30 minutes long. The Spaniard hit his approach shot into a hazard. After considering his options, Garcia consulted with rules official Stephen Cox. He then took two drops that resulted in the ball ending up closer to the hole, so he placed it on his third attempt.
“I knew if I got good contact on it, it would pop up and probably go in the grandstand behind the green,” Garcia said of his eventual third shot. “We started looking at that.”
Golf Channel’s Will Gray wrote about the logic of the ruled that allowed Garcia to drop
“While Rule 24-2 does not allow a player to take relief from a movable obstruction when in a hazard, Cox explained that the temporary nature of the obstruction made Garcia eligible to receive a free drop, provided he remained inside the hazard.
““(If) the player’s ball lies in a water hazard, he would not get relief from an immovable obstruction for like a sprinkler head,” Cox said. “We have very large structures which are situated very close to the water hazard which ordinarily wouldn’t be there, so the rules allow a player to get relief when his ball lies in a water hazard.””
After what amounted to perching his ball on a de facto rock tee, Garcia pitched a hot one over the green that ricocheted off the grandstands. He got up and down from par from where his ball ended up in the green-skirting rough.
“Because the grandstands are there, and the rules are there, I was able to take relief from it and it kind of worked out well for me,” Garcia said.
Indeed, it did. This isn’t quite as dubious as the Ballad of Charley Hoffman, Branden Grace and the Bunker Lining, but it’s, shall we say, a savvy application of the Rules of Golf.
Here’s a (mercifully condensed) video of the drama.